I think the turning point came when I did the 14 mile training run with the Fox Valley Marathon group. While it was still a warmer day, it was much better than we had seen in the days leading up to it. I made it through that run, and while I was slower than a sloth, I felt so much better at the end than I had when I finished the 10 mile run. Plus, I was able to get a couple of runs in that week as well.
Thank goodness my awesome running buddy Pat asked me if I'd like to do my 15 miler with her last weekend! 10 miles, even 12 miles, are okay if I'm by myself. But anything over that would be sooooo loooooooong without someone to chat with. Pat is great about running whatever pace I need to do, even though I know I'm slowing her down. She always says "miles are miles, no matter what your speed is". And we had such a beautiful morning for our run! We headed out to the Great Western Trail, and it was actually chilly at times. Never thought I'd be able to say that in July around here!
I also joined up with the Dick Pond Speed Club that meets on Thursday evenings (thanks Karla!). The first night I was there we did 400 meter relays, and it felt great. This week we did hills. And other than feeling like I was going to throw up around the third time up the hill, it was a great workout. Okay, so maybe the post-workout Summer Shandy helped with that (maybe it was the second one....). Between the miles I was doing on the training runs, the workouts, and other runs I've done on my own, I actually hit 50 miles for July! I was really happy with that, since the beginning of the month started off so slowly.
|Wow...over 300 runners for Training Run #4!!!!|
|Karla and me rockin' the pre-run attitude|
|Seth and me getting ready to run!|
I was still pacing the 12:30 group, although it's really 12:30+++...I'm known as "The Sweeper" now...haha! Our little group has actually grown quite a bit, and I saw many new faces mixed in with the people I've gotten to know over the last month with our runs. I also met a new woman, Sarah. She had checked with one of our awesome race directors, Dave, to see if here are slower paces with these runs. It was great she did that, since Dave could let Jeanne (our fearless training run leader) know, and she sent me an email to alert me as well. I met Sarah right before we set off, and another running friendship was born :).
The weather was SO much better for our run!! It was cooler, with much lower humidity, and beautiful blue skies. I felt great when we started off, and our group sort of spread out, but I could still see some runners behind us. At the first big turn, I stopped to make sure they all followed the group, then took back off to lead the pack. Karla was also pacing the 12:30 half marathon group, I could see her up ahead. Around mile 2 1/2 I caught up with Sarah, and we spent the next 5+ miles running together. I've been following a Jeff Galloway plan of run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute, and she stayed right with me while we did that. Around mile 7 we were getting in to Red Oak Nature Center, and that area has a lot more rolling hills. I still felt strong and kept up our 12:25-12:30 pace, and Sarah dropped back a bit. I saw so many friends passing back by, since they had already hit the 8 mile turn around. It was wonderful and uplifting to see all of the! It really hit home again what an awesome community us runners have.
I waited at the 8 mile turn-around for Sarah to hit that point, along with Ann, another woman I've gotten to know. There was a great sign telling us to turn around, but I wanted to make sure a)they were both okay and b) they didn't miss it. We all took back off, and started our way back. I was a bit ahead of them, but we caught back up with each other at the 9 mile and 12 or 13 mile water stops. I stopped at Island Park in Geneva for a quick bathroom break, and they got up ahead of me. I came back up on them around mile 15, and we made our way back to Dick Pond. My last mile was slower, although we did run some of the time. Sadly, my phone died with 0.5 miles to go, so my Runkeeper app didn't log the full run.
We made it back to the store, and got hugs and high-fives from our race directors and great friends that were still hanging out in the great backyard area. Luckily Christine and Karla saved a freezie pop for me! I felt incredible when I finished. Yes, I was tired and yes, I was sore - but I just added another distance PR that day, and I felt like I could keep going. Probably not another 10 miles at that time, but at least a couple more miles.
I'm looking forward to another long run this weekend, along with additional runs I'll do this week for training and speed workouts. And I'm finally realizing that yes - I can do this! It's less than 2 months until the Fox Valley Marathon, and Chicago is just three weeks after that. I'm starting to visualize myself crossing the finish lines at both races, and the chills have already started. I can't wait to see what the rest of training brings!